A European agenda for the collaborative economy - Alan Levine - CC BY 2.0
Photo: Alan Levine - CC BY 2.0

- By Bénédicte De Beys

A European agenda for the collaborative economy

The European Commission adopted, on 2 June 2016, a communication entitled “A European agenda for the collaborative economy”.

This communication, which forms part of the Commission’s Strategy for a Single Market, aims to encourage the balanced development of a collaborative European economy. This communication complements the legal framework already previously adopted by the Commission in terms of online platforms, designed as an element of the European Strategy of the Digital Single Market, or even the
E-Commerce Directive.

In its communication, the Commission ventures to define the collaborative economy:

“For the purposes of this Communication, the term "collaborative economy" refers to business models where activities are facilitated by collaborative platforms that create an open marketplace for the temporary usage of goods or services often provided by private individuals. The collaborative economy involves three categories of actors:

  1. service providers who share assets, resources, time and/or skills – these can be private individuals offering services on an occasional basis (‘peers’) or service providers acting in their professional capacity ("professional services providers");
  2. users of these; and
  3. intermediaries that connect – via an online platform – providers with users and that facilitate transactions between them (‘collaborative platforms’).

Collaborative economy transactions generally do not involve a change of ownership and can be carried out for profit or not-for-profit”.

According to this definition, the company UBER is therefore part of the collaborative economy, in the manner of other peer-to-peer platforms, not generating any profits for members but based only on the logic of barter economy.

The communication of the Commission insists on the need for States to encourage the collaborative economy, and the significant economic growth that it has already caused, by a proportioned application of the legal constraints, both in terms of administrative authorities and in tax matters, for example, by organising facilitated administrative channels that can be specially accessed for these new operators (pre-established suitable reporting forms, administrative guidance, …).

This communication is not binding but aims to guide the Commission in its role as guardian of the treaties, including at the level of the Court of Justice of the European Union in terms of the interpretation of European law.

In addition to the Commission’s recommendations inviting States to consider, and, if necessary, reduce the restrictions in terms of legal authorities and obligations, the Commission also agrees to establish “monitoring tools” for the future, namely:

1. Periodic surveys of consumers and businesses on the use of the collaborative economy.

2. Ongoing mapping of regulatory developments in Member States.

3. Stakeholder dialogue in the framework of the Single Market Forum, with twice yearly forums to assess sector development on the ground and to identify good practices.

4. The results of the monitoring of the collaborative economy will be summarised in the Single Market Scoreboard”.

Associated areas of specialisation: Public economics and finance


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